Lemons Could Replace Chemicals in IVF Labs

by Michelle Henderson, AAP NATIONAL MEDICAL WRITER ,  News.com.au | 2012-10-29

MORE than 200 years after Casanova employed their contraceptive qualities, lemons are making a comeback as a way to stop sperm in their tracks. Scientists from Sydney's Genea fertility clinic are planning to replace the carcinogenic chemical formaldehyde with lemon juice to analyse sperm samples in their laboratories.

The citric acid in lemon juice immobilises sperm, allowing scientists to conduct accurate sperm counts and analyse the samples for abnormalities, said Genea's scientific director Steve McArthur.

The clinic has successfully trialled the new method on 50 samples and will validate the results in a further study before completely switching to lemon juice, probably within months, Mr McArthur said. The initial trial showed lemon juice was just as effective as formaldehyde in immobilising sperm, he said.

Scientists wanted to move from using the dangerous chemical, which is often used to preserve bodies in medical laboratories, to a natural alternative. "The lemon juice makes a much more safe and efficient way for us to be able to process our sperm in our laboratory," Mr McArthur told AAP.

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